Education

Category archives for Education

Uncertain Dots 15

Rhett and I did the 15th episode of our Uncertain Dots hangout yesterday, commenting on a discussion started by Casey Rutherford about what we would like students coming into college physics to know. We had a slight difference of opinion about physics content, but agreed about the importance of algebra (which is like sunscreen). I…

Mysteries of Introductory Physics

Every now and then, I run across a question in class that I genuinely don’t know how to answer. If I’m lucky, this happens when I’m prepping a class, rather than when a student asks it live. Like today, when I noticed the above discussion question in my slides (reproduced at the bottom as well…

On Beginning to Write

Over at Xykademiqz, a couple of weeks ago, there was a very nice post about the struggle to get students to write. “Very nice” here means that it’s a good description of the problem, not that I’m glad anybody else has to deal with this. I don’t face quite the same thing– my students generally…

Uncertain Dots 14

Another week, another hangout with Rhett. In which we actually fielded a couple of questions from readers on Twitter, about the reason for inertia and a kind of meta-question. More audience questions would, of course, be welcome. A couple of links to things that came up: Mach’s Principle, a past attempt to explain the origin…

This coming fall term, I’ll be teaching Astronomy 052, “Relativity, Black Holes, and Quasars,” because the guy who has traditionally taught it (a radio astronomer who studies active galactic nuclei) has to do other courses instead. But I said “Well, hell, I’ve written a popular audience book explaining relativity. I can teach that.” And since…

I’ve seen a few links passed around to this Tom Siegfried post about science literacy, which is mostly a familiar story about how polls show most Americans giving incorrect answers to science questions. The sort of stuff you find in the NSF’s Science and Engineering Indicators report. What’s getting the social-media attention, though, is this…

Uncertain Dots, Lucky Number 13

We had a couple of weeks of unplanned hiatus due to sick kids and day care closures, so the superstitious among you might’ve thought we would never get to the 13th episode of Encertain Dots. Rhett and I are scientists, though, so we powered through: Given the time of year, this is mostly about end-of-academic-year…

While I’m complaining about statisticulation in social media, I was puzzled by the graph in Kevin Drum’s recent post about college wage gaps, which is reproduced as the “featured image” above, and also copied below for those reading via RSS. I don’t dispute the general phenomenon this is describing– that the top 10% of college…

Adjunct Faculty and Awful Stats

Via a mailing list, probably via this Tyler Cowen post, an awful statistic about adjunct faculty: 35 years ago there were 44% more tenured faculty than adjuncts. Today there are 76% more adjuncts than tenured faculty, via @chronicle — Ángel Cabrera (@CabreraAngel) April 25, 2014 This is awful in two ways. First, it’s obviously a…

A collection of miscellaneous stuff with an academic inclination from the past week or so: — We gave an exam last night in introductory E&M (I’m teaching one of five sections this term), so we’ve spent a lot of time this week on exam review. One thing that might be worth mentioning here is the…